‘That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into’, I said to myself as I struggled past The Tavern in Murrisk last Wednesday evening. I have gotten into some peculiar situations in an eventful three-and-a-half decades, but my mind was telling me I had just made a serious boo boo, and right then I wasn’t arguing otherwise!
Michael Flynn from Flynn Computers in Westport and the Covey Wheelers Cycling Club called me up last January asking would I take part in the Westportif this May, and for some reason I still can’t figure out, I said yes.
The Westportif is a cycle event that begins and finishes in Westport Town. The shortest route, 80km, goes to Louisburgh, around the Doolough Valley, turning left after Ashleigh Falls and back in to Westport. I get nauseous thinking about it.
Having committed I couldn’t back out, but like a total fool I had ignored the last three months, probably hoping it would go away. It didn’t. And so last week I was out solo (proper) cycling for the first time ever. In reality, here was a total chancer on a bike, panicking as his mind tortured him with taunts that he hasn’t a hope in hell of completing the challenge. With a month to D Day and no prep done for it, I realised the demons in my head were making sense.
‘Why didn’t you just say no, you gobshite?’, I asked myself as a car invaded my airspace passing the Reek, but stubbornly, I persevered, into a headwind that made my eyes weep going up an incline towards the Bertra Road. (I never even realised that stretch of road was a hill; it doesn’t seem like one in a car!)
While the world has become obsessed with cycling, running and adventure racing in the past decade, I always quietly declined to participate. I have better ideas on how to enjoy myself, and I’ve become dab hand at them. While some of them involve being in a seated position for long periods at a time, I have never had even a remote urge to sit on a bike. Perhaps that’s why I agreed to this, to take myself out of my comfort zone.
I have since convinced Kevin ‘Kipper’ Joyce, landlord at The West Bar and Restaurant, to take part. He’s getting married this year and needs the exercise. Unlike me though, he’s naturally fit and used to cycling from Sea2Summit. For the record, the last time I was on a bike, apart from the one I nicked from Kipper’s house to cycle out the Greenway on the morning after a night out (if you saw me that is what I was doing) was when I was a child.
I have borrowed a bike off my brother-in-law Tom, who also insisted in kitting me out with all the gear. I might have been out in jeans and a duffle coat otherwise. He took me out for what was a quick spin (for him). I didn’t catch the bug or anything, but my stubborn gene kicked in. I’ll stick at it for the next month, and I don’t care if it takes me 12 hours to complete the Westportif, I’m going to chance it anyway. I just might need a defibrillator for the bike, though, if anyone has one handy!